Continuing our tip of the hat to Ayrton Senna on his birthday and AnalogWheels.com’s launch day, I thought it might be nice to include a Lotus in today’s WeelSpin Features, seeing that for several of his early years in F1 racing he piloted a Lotus. So buckle up…Green light!
If someone had asked me in the 1980’s what my favorite car of all time was, I had an answer waiting for them. I’m pretty sure I was asked once in a while, but as always my answers were unexpected by most and were usually met with blank stares. Particularly blank were the stares of those my age. You know what I mean, as you are talking their eyes go dark like some kind of animated road kill.
Roadkill Eyes (RE): “Hey what’s your favorite car? Mine’s a [Mustang, Camaro, Corvette…etc., etc.]”
Jacster Trixter (JT): “Those are cool, but my favorite car is the Lotus Esprit Turbo.”
Roadkill Eyes: “A what?”
Jacster Trixter: “A Lotus Esprit Turbo, it’s British”
Roadkill Eyes: “An Ess-Prit? Huh. Oh, hey you wanna ride our bikes and get a Slush Puppie?”
Jacster Trixter: “(sigh) yesss.”
You get the idea.
But then again, I was always into foreign sports cars more than American Muscle. I’m not a big/loud/brash sort of person and I was never really into those characteristics despite my early affinity toward NASCAR and dirt track races at the fairground. I always tended to enjoy more compact, lightweight cars that handled well and had smaller more refined engines with less power but were a whole lotta fun to drive on twisties.
My first car was a Z-car, and I also drove my father’s Alfa Romeo Spider quite a bit. Not that I was a stranger to big American Coupes. Dad had a 1976 Chrysler Cordoba that had a 400 cubic inch V8, and my second car was a Lincoln Mark VII LSC that had a 302 Windsor. See my writeup from yesterday HERE on a similar Mark VII LSC.
But the Lotus Esprit was a whole different beast. It was an exotic beast, and as it turned out there was a small Lotus dealer not too far from where I grew up, just on the New York/New Jersey border. Dad and I went in there once to check them out and I was arrow-to-the-heart smitten. The car was the wedgest shaped wedge I had ever seen and the engine was located behind your head. At the time, they were small engines, an inline 4, but hey it was a turbo, as was everything from microwave ovens to tee shirts back in the ’80’s. Turbos were cool, and the Esprit was one of the coolest shaped turbo cars ever.
Fast forward to 1998 and Lotus decided that the little inline 4 with a huffer-puffer stuck on it was, well it was so…1980’s. So it doubled down. Literally. Designer Julian Thomson and his team of tinkerers at Lotus figured out how double the cylinders and turbos, and stuff that Type 918 V8 twin-turbo in the place usually reserved for it’s little brother. The engine was powerful enough to turn the gearbox into silly putty, so they sadly detuned it from the 500 horsepower monster it was to a relatively anemic 350 horsepower. Still, that was enough to sail that wedge of British engineering to 60 MPH in 4.4 seconds and top out at 175 MPH. But only if you were so fortunate as to have a place to do that and not wedge your way through the front wall of a Dairy Queen.
Although this silver over grey leather car has a rebuilt title, it only has 21,000 miles on it and is said by the seller to be in excellent condition. Everything works and the AC blows cold air, and not just when it’s cold outside. It is said to have been stored in climate controlled storage for it’s entire life, and the asking price is $35,000. The carfax report is available from the seller, so to get the whole story on this 1990’s pop-up headlighted classic wedge, click HERE to see the listing on craigslist. Alternatively, you can just drool over the photos before you pedal down to the gas station and get a Slush Puppy.